As vote counting in the presidential race continued across the country on Thursday, including in key swing states that will determine if either Joe Biden or Donald Trump is elected, Trump and his allies advanced conflicting arguments about their opinions on the race.
In Arizona, where Trump trails by a margin that some around him believe he can overcome, supporters gathered to urge ballots keep being counted (which they were already) because, they claimed, the state was being stolen. Some people yelled "count those votes."
But in Michigan and Nevada, the Trump campaign was reportedly preparing or had already sued over the count there, which showed him losing to Biden.
His campaign has likewise sued in Pennsylvania, where he currently leads while a substantial chunk of ballots remain uncounted — votes that Biden believes will help him pull into the lead.
The contradiction about President Trump's stance was epitomized by a Thursday morning tweet to he sent to "STOP THE COUNT!" — which, beside having no legal basis, would have frozen the state of the race while Biden was winning, given Biden's leads in Arizona and Nevada.
(Trump, who has not been seen publicly since a pre-dawn speech at the White House on Wednesday, re-tweeted his own post less than two hours later. He has previously tried to use social media to "claim" victory in some states where votes are still being counted.)
The back-and-forth — and unlikely future of some of Trump's legal challenges, according to experts — illustrates how the electoral map tilts toward Biden.
The Associated Press has called the swing states of Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for Biden while Trump won Florida, Ohio and Texas.
(The AP's projected winner in Arizona has drawn criticism from the Trump campaign, though the AP said its analysis does not show enough remaining votes for Trump to make up his deficit.)
According to the AP, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania remain too close to call as of Thursday. Biden would need only one of them to win the presidency while Trump would need all four.
By law, some states were not allowed to begin counting ballots (including mail-in ballots, which smashed records due to the novel coronavirus pandemic) until Election Day.
Mail voting has largely favored Biden so, as tallies continue, the former vice president has seen a spike in both his Electoral College standing and the overall popular vote.
Tallying votes after Election Day is nothing new and while counting every legal ballot in an election is a bedrock of United States democracy, that hasn't stopped Trump from continuing to claim without any evidence that the election is being stolen from him.
Increasingly, he has been criticizing the concept of voting itself.
"ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!" he bellowed on Twitter, in direct contradiction of state law.
Not long after the polls closed on Tuesday, Trump claimed he had won the 2020 election, despite millions of votes not yet being counted.
As numbers began to trickle in, it became clear that the president faced a serious threat to his reelection, despite early wins in Florida and Ohio, and his assertions of election fraud (of which there is no evidence) intensified.
Members of the president's campaign — including his son Eric and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani — held a press conference in Philadelphia on Wednesday insisting with no proof that Democrats were trying to cheat in Pennsylvania.
Nonetheless, some prominent Republicans are breaking from Trump's cries of fraud and his claims that he has already won the election before counting is done.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday that "claiming you've won the election is different from finishing the counting."
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a prominent Trump adviser, told ABC News that "there's just no basis" to argue for a halt to vote-counting.
"All these votes have to be counted that are in now," Christie said.
The latest that some states accept mail ballots is if they are postmarked on Election Day, but votes can still arrive up to days later to account for postal delays. (In Washington state, for example, postmarked ballots can actually be received as late as Nov. 23.)
As the president continues to spread misinformation, social media companies are intervening.
Trump's Thursday tweet about ignoring votes arriving after the election must be read with a warning from Twitter for containing disputed or misleading information.
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